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Faris Maumoon barred from travelling overseas

Faris was stopped at the Velana International Airport’s immigration checkpoint Sunday morning after he checked in to fly to Bangalore, India to visit a sick relative.



MP Faris Maumoon, son of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, has been barred from travelling overseas by a court order.

Faris was stopped at the Velana International Airport’s immigration checkpoint Sunday morning after he checked in to fly to Bangalore, India to visit a sick relative.

An immigration official informed him of a travel ban imposed by the criminal court and confiscated his passport, the lawmaker said in a press statement.

Faris said he was previously told by the criminal court of a travel ban from March 29 to April 28 after he was interrogated by the police several times during March.

“I note that I have not been informed by any state institution that I have been barred from travelling out of the Maldives after the end of the period in the court order,” he said.

The police media official declined to comment.

Faris was summoned for questioning at the police headquarters five times ahead of the March 27 no-confidence vote against the speaker of parliament. The MP for Dhiggaru has been leading a breakaway faction of the ruling party who took his father’s side after the Progressive Party of Maldives was split into rival factions.

In late April, the police forwarded a case against Faris for prosecution over alleged failure to reimburse the state. But the Prosecutor General’s office rejected the case as the statute of limitations in the penal code for the illegal expenses charge is eight years.

The charges reportedly stemmed from the misuse of state funds from the former presidential palace Theemuge in 2007 and 2008, the last two years of Gayoom’s 30-year reign.

Several Gayoom loyalists have faced legal after the 79-year-old joined forces with the opposition to challenge his half-brother President Abdulla Yameen’s parliamentary majority.

Last week, Abdul Aleem, the secretary-general of Gayoom’s faction of the divided Progressive Party of Maldives, paid an MVR85,000 (US$5,500) fine for contempt of court.

Aleem was also summoned to the police headquarters on Thursday night after the civil court requested a criminal investigation on the same contempt of court charge.

A five-judge panel of the civil court decided last month that Aleem contravened a ruling in October that stripped Gayoom of his powers as the party’s elected leader.

After two PPM lawmakers petitioned the court to lift Gayoom’s suspension of the party’s governing council, Judge Mohamed Haleem ordered Yameen to resume council meetings under his leadership. The council promptly put Yameen in charge of the party but Gayoom reacted by reconstituting both the council and disciplinary committee and appointing loyalists to key posts.

Yameen’s faction contends that Gayoom also defied the court ruling by setting up the ‘office of the PPM president’ and conducting activities under the party’s name.

But Gayoom’s faction maintains that he remains the party’s elected leader as the PPM charter prohibits a sitting president, who has a symbolic role as advisor, from managing the party.

Zaidul Ameen, a PPM Malé City councillor and stauch Gayoom loyalist, was meanwhile arrested on a charge of blackmailing “senior figures” in January. His trial began earlier this month.

Zaid has accused a high-ranking police officer of threatening to keep him detained unless he gave false testimony that could be used as a pretext to arrest Gayoom.

In late April, the police sought Interpol assistance to find Gayoom’s personal assistant, Ahmed Sofwan, in connection with an undisclosed investigation. Sofwan’s passport has also been revoked.

The 38-year-old is reportedly in India along with Gayoom, who left in March to visit a sick relative. Sofwan is also a member of the PPM’s governing council.

In late March, the Yameen faction’s disciplinary committee expelled Gayoom himself from the PPM. The police subsequently took down the PPM flag and its logo from Gayoom’s office.

Gayoom has been in India since early March. His military bodyguards were prevented from accompanying him during the visit after he supported the no-confidence motion against the parliament’s speaker.